The Palestinians are renovating Joseph’s Tomb.
Palestinian Authority cleaners and repairmen went to work this week on the shrine on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus. The site was vandalized extensively during the outbreak of violence in late 2000.
Revered as the final resting place of the biblical patriarch, the site had long housed a yeshiva and small Israeli border police garrison, but its occupants fled deadly Palestinian assaults. The Palestinians then converted the tomb to a mosque.
Since his break with Hamas Islamists in June, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been trying to show he can impose security and stability, with Nablus as a proving ground. Hundreds of P.A. police have deployed in the city in recent weeks, confronting local militias.
Security sources said the Palestinians consider their renovation of Joseph’s Tomb another “goodwill gesture” toward Israel, and that talks are under way about establishing a regular pilgrimage route for Jews who want to pray at the shrine.